MWUN wants on-board gangway men restored to help check drug trafficking through seaports
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) says restoring on-board gangway men would help check the influx of hard drugs into the country through the seaports.
President General of the Union, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, made the appeal while speaking at the Second Edition of JournalNG’s Industry Town Hall Meeting themed: ‘Towards a Drug Free Port Environment’, which held in Lagos.
According to Adeyanju, the non-issuance of biometric identity cards by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)to dockworkers over the years also made it difficult to check the true identity of who came in and out of the seaports and for what purposes.
He said: “There is need for strict security checks at the port. Things are no longer how it used to be. On-board gangway men need to be brought back to help check the activities of drug traffickers.
“NIMASA needs to issue Biometric ID cards to dockworkers to help enhance security in the ports. Once the biometric IDs are issued, those carrying out unlawful businesses in the ports can be easily identified and dealt with accordingly.
“Drugs do not get into the country without the involvement and help of some collaborators inside the ports. MWUN should not be tagged as responsible for all illicit drugs coming into the country.
“Other agencies and individuals are complicit by not discharging their duties adequately. Some people are given bribe to look the other way. To end this scourge, all hands must be on deck; it is the responsibility of everyone.”
The Union boss was clear about the zero tolerance for illicit drug trafficking and vowed that any member found culpable would face the full wrath by losing their membership.
He also said that the Union had sought collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to campaign against drug peddling, while it also kept sensitising its members as well as the port environment community on the dangers of illicit drug use.
“To further push home this stand, MWUN has concluded a plan to undertake a public sensitization program which will draw attention to the harm of illicit drug trafficking.
“The program will kick start from Lagos ports and will be taken to all ports and terminals in the nation. We expect to involve all stakeholders and well-meaning port users and even our international affiliate-International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). At MWUN, we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that we join hands with our security infrastructure.
“We affirm our conviction to keep the flag of zero tolerance to drug peddling and use on our front burner and to sustainably consolidate our credibility and build the Port we want, we must therefore move from a catalogue of good intentions and collectively step up responses to cope with these challenges, it is our hope that this plan of action will redirect our efforts towards addressing the Drug peddling problem in our ports.
“Indeed, drug trafficking represents a major challenge for Nigeria and port users/operators. World drug report 2021 clearly shows that there is much work to be done to confront the many harms inflicted by illicit drugs to health, development, peace and security, in all regions of the world an estimated quarter of a billion people, or around 5% of the global adult population, used drugs at least once.
“In response to this challenge, maritime workers union of Nigeria has reached out to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with a view to jointly building one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capacities for and around our ports.
“I also would quickly seize this opportunity to extend our hand of fellowship to the NDLEA for a collaborative alliance that will seek to stem the distribution and trafficking of illicit drugs through our ports.
“We were recently in a town hall meeting with members of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) which had in attendance all our shop floor stewards starting from officers from the Units through the Districts and to the branch and national.
“At that interactive meeting, the Union informed all and sundry that it had zero tolerance for illicit drug peddlers and therefore will not condone the act if any member is found culpable, pronouncing that such member automatically loses membership of the union,” Adeyanju said.
In his own message at the event, the Deputy Organising Secretary, MWUN, Comrade Abdul Eroje, advocated for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to participate in cargo examination at the nation’s seaports as part of efforts to curb drug peddling and trafficking in Nigeria.
He said that having the NDLEA alongside operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service would strengthen the force to check the rate of drug trafficking through thorough cargo examination of such consignment at the ports.
Eroje also faulted what he described as the porous nature of the security structure in the ports, jetties, and terminals as another factor contributing to the rise of drug trafficking in the country.
He said the union would continue to sensitize labour workers and members to desist from any form of connivance with the drug syndicate.